Royal Australian Navy records of the First Gulf War – End of the War
25 years ago the First Gulf War was coming to a very rapid conclusion. After months of build-up and months of CNN wheeling out their latest expert for the hour in their 24 hour coverage, the world had stood tensed waiting for something to happen.
On 17 January it all finally started, with an aerial bombing campaign which gave CNN no end of images to play over and over. It all built towards an inevitable crescendo, when on 24 February the ground campaign started. It was all over a mere four days later. After all the lead up most were shocked by how quickly and painlessly (for the allies) the War had been won.
First page of AAP bulletin for the Navy 28 February 1991 – AWM386 [12/4 Part 1]
Against this backdrop the Royal Australian Navy Public Relations and Media teams had their hands full sending and receiving signals that covered these developments. As part of the recently accessioned Royal Australian Navy records of the First Gulf War held at the Memorial we have the files that hold those signals as part of Official Records series AWM386.
When hostilities ceased the AAP Bulletin for the Navy, 28 February 1991 records that Bob Hawke, Australia’s Prime Minster at the time, had the following to say:
Canberra – Prime Minister Bob Hawke has expressed relief that the Gulf War has ended and paid tribute to the Australia(n) S forces in the region.
He says this is a moment of great relief and hope, of great pride and also of great sorrow.
He says Australia has been sad that it has been necessary to resort to war, to right the wrong perpetrated by Saddam Hussein on the second of August when he invaded Kuwait.
But he says Australian(s) are glad that the world has stood united against his act of aggression even to the ultimate sanction of war.
Mr Hawke says Australia and the World are rejoicing that the war has been won with so few casualties to the Allied forces.
But he says that while the world share(s) the joy of the Kuwaitis, they also grieve the destruction of Iraq.
He says that for Iraq the price has been terrible, and Australia opes Iraq can quickly bind its wounds and rebuild its nation as a respected and as a responsible member of the international community.
The text varies slightly from that reported in the Canberra times on 1 March 1991, and is probably due to paraphrasing.
This and many more records relating to the First Gulf War are now held at the Australian War Memorial as part of series AWM386.
As the records may still contain sensitive material an access request will need to be placed with the AWM Reading Room before they can be viewed. Because it may take some time (from days to months) to process these access requests it is best to contact the Reading Room staff prior to coming in to the Memorial at: http://awm.altarama.com/reft120.aspx?pmi=yweFsEwZsG